Blessed Are The Cheesemakers

/ posted in: FoodReading

I’m guest hosting Inspiration on Monday for Trish this week. Come on over and link up any crafty posts you have and read what everyone else is up to!

A few weeks ago I came across this article. Tasting Vegan “Cheese” with a Professional Cheese Taster. Since trying to be mostly vegan, I’ve weaned myself off most cheese. The first step was recognizing that I use cheese only in junk foods so that helped but still … nachos and macaroni and cheese and cheesecake and lasagna…. There are vegan cheese substitutes but they are made of all kinds of chemical crap and that defeats the purpose of being healthy. They aren’t all that good either.

So this article intrigued me. The cheese taster gave really high marks to the nut based cheeses and the maker of the cheeses has a cookbook.

Artisan Vegan CheeseArtisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner

The book is a little scary. The difference between this book and other recipes is that most of these cheeses are cultured. That means that they are made just like dairy cheeses. The only difference is that they start either with cashews or non-dairy yogurt instead of milk. I’m nervous about fermenting.

The first recipe is for rejuvelac. That’s basically your culture starter. I made mine by sprouting quinoa to make it gluten free. That takes a few days and I wasn’t ever sure if it was right or not. I used it to make some Basic Cashew Cheese that is basically a plain spread. It turned out tangy and good. I mixed some spinach dip mix with it and ate it with chips and salsa. Even the cheese-loving husband said he couldn’t tell the difference.

So now I’ve rounded up some of the more hard to find ingredients and am starting a cheese making assembly line for some of the more advanced cheeses.

Step One – Make a Cryptic List

I wanted to start a bunch of stuff and needed to know what to do first for all of them.

Step Two – Start the Cashews Soaking

When I need to soak cashews for sauces I usually just boil them to shorten the soaking time. I’m not sure if that will hurt the culturing though so I’m following the recipes the first time through. I have everything labeled so I know what is what.

Step Three – Make some Fast Cheeses

On the left is Meltable Muenster cooling to room temperature. It doesn’t get cultured so once it cools and then is refrigerated for a while I’ll have something to try tonight. Almost-instant gratification is good.

On the right is Meltable Monterey Jack starting to ferment. (The lid isn’t screwed on so it isn’t going to explode. It is just covering it.) It will sit out until tomorrow morning and then have the thickeners added. Does that scare anyone else? Normally I’m all —

But letting cheese sit out at room temperature on purpose so the mold gets a good hold on it does give me pause.

The rest of the cheeses take a while to make so I’m going to report back on the next Inspiration on Monday link up day in 2 weeks with how it all went.